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Wolves Comeback Falls Just Short Against the Rockets

by Julian Andrews
Web Editorial Associate Follow

Despite a memorable second half, the Wolves couldn’t come back from a 77-56 halftime deficit, falling to the Houston Rockets and dropping their second game in a row.

This one got off to a rough start.

The Wolves’ offense, led by Karl-Anthony Towns and Andrew Wiggins, and aided by strong play from Jamal Crawford off the bench, looked good, but they couldn’t stop the Rockets on the other end of the floor.

Houston shot 63.6 percent from the floor and hit 11 threes in the first two quarters. The Rockets led by 21 at the half.

But the Wolves didn’t back down. Behind strong play from Towns and Nemanja Bjelica, the Wolves pulled to within 16 after three quarters. Houston still led 109 to 91, but Minnesota had clearly started to put it together.

Then the fourth quarter happened.

A physical game got chippy when Gorgui Dieng got into it with Gerald Green and Green was ejected. Dieng received a technical foul. It was a major energy shift for the Wolves, who locked down on defense, shutting down the Rockets’ three-point attack. Shortly after, Dieng took a charge from P.J. Tucker, and the crowd at Target Center started chanting his name. We might have a new fan favorite on our hands.

In the fourth quarter, the Wolves looked very aggressive attacking the basket. Derrick Rose made it abundantly clear why the Wolves signed him; he had several key plays in the quarter, showcasing the explosiveness and physicality that he was known for earlier in his career.

When Karl-Anthony Towns powered down a monster slam with 3:57 left in the game, the building was rocking, and it really seemed like the Wolves could come back and win.

But it was too much to ask. James Harden was up to his usual tricks, getting to the rim and drawing fouls, and Chris Paul bailed the Rockets out on several possessions with tough midrange jumpers. After Harden drained an insanely difficult step-back three over Rose to make it 116-125, the Wolves’ comeback bid had been ended.

While the Wolves can definitely take some positives away from the night, the loss is a disappointing result that knocks the team down to 8th in the Western Conference—a position that would likely have them playing these same Rockets in the first round.

If that is the case, however, Houston better come prepared. If the final half of play tonight taught us anything, it’s that the Wolves are capable of going toe to toe with the league’s best. If they play like this every night, Minnesota could make some noise.

Highlight of the Night:

With 5:08 left in the game, Rose took a pass from a driving Jeff Teague, made a strong move into the lane, and threw down a monster two-handed dunk. Rose was great tonight; if he can consistently make plays like this, he will certainly continue to earn meaningful minutes.

Numbers Game:

-The Wolves only allowed five made threes in the second half. That’s more than respectable against a Rockets team that leads the league in three-pointers. Of course, this would look better if Houston hadn’t made 11 in the first half.

-Jamal Crawford moved up to 60th on the NBA’s all-time scoring list tonight.

-The Timberwolves shot 52.3-percent from the field and 50-percent from three. Offense was not the issue tonight.

Player of the Game:

With respect to Derrick Rose’s excellent work off the bench, Jeff Teague’s quietly amazing play deserves recognition tonight. Teague finished with 23 points, 6 rebounds, 11 assists, and 2 steals on the night. His dribbling abilities consistently allow him to get to the rim and find teammates for great looks. Even though he might not always have the highlight plays, it seems like Teague has a hand in many of the Wolves most memorable possessions. Teague is a winner, and down the stretch, his play is becoming incredibly important.

Up Next:

The Wolves will host the Clippers on Tuesday night. Tipoff is set for 7:00 p.m. on Fox Sports North and 830 WCCO. 

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